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Health Psychology




Admissions requirements

Social Determinants is a recommended prior course.


Health promotion and health behavior theories are invaluable in public health to the development of interventions that have maximum reach and maximum potential to improve health and well-being. In this course, students will acquire a foundation in the primary theoretical perspectives that inform current public health interventions. Theories will be critically examined for strengths and limitations at the various levels of implementation: individual, interpersonal, community, organization and system. Coupled with the theories will be lectures on determinants that influence health behaviours as well as psychological impacts of disease diagnosis. Determinants of health behaviours will be placed into larger social, political and economic contexts.

This course will also provide accurate, current, and reliable information for a range of wellness topics, giving students a solid base of knowledge from which to make informed lifestyle choices. These topics will emphasize personal responsibility and link to the theoretical foundations on behavior change. The course encourages students to relate course material to their own lives and to examine their health-related behaviors.

This course is a prerequisite for the “Primary and Secondary Prevention Strategies” course where you will apply intervention mapping for the development of health promotion programs as well as develop screening programs.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Apply relevant psychological models with respect to health and illness behaviours

  • Understand the principles of health promotion models for primary prevention of diseases.

  • Critically analyze the theoretical frameworks in order to appreciate both their value and their limitations in the field

  • Know the intersections between behaviours models and determinants of health

  • Translate behavioural health theories from research into public health practice

  • Recognize ethical issues in health behavior interventions


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The two-hour twice weekly session will be run with multiple teaching methods, including: lectures, assigned readings and assignments, in-class discussions, guest speakers, and an oral group presentation. Students are expected to attend every class session, to carefully read the articles, and to hand in assignments on the specified deadlines.


Assessment 1: In-class participation
Weight: 10%, deadline: weeks 1-7
Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material, measured through attendance, and being able to apply the readings in assignments

**Assessment 2: Journal Article Presentation/Discussion **
Weight: 15%, deadline: weeks 2-7
Learning aim: Critically assess behavioural health theories to appreciate their value and limitations in the field, measured through the ability to lead a 20 minute discussion, summarize the health issue, theory implementation to change behaviour, strengths and limitation of this theory to the health challenge and discussion questions. Students will be asked to select a behavior change theory, health issue and review three peer-reviewed journal articles related to their selection.

Assessment 3: Personal Health Behaviour Change Program
Weight: 20%, deadline: week 4-6
Learning aim: To stimulate being the recipient of a health behavior change intervention and to increase understanding of how to translate health behavior change theories into practical applications; measured through a personal reflection on the intervention linking theories discussed in class with the ability to change behavior. Each student will select a personal health behavior (exercise, eating, smoking etc…) that they would like to change. For one week, you will monitor the baseline frequency of this behavior and then implement a brief health behavior change intervention (using one of the theories discussed in class) for one week. In the third week, you will terminate the intervention and determine any lasting effects of your intervention. Keep track of your thoughts/reflections in a journal that will need to be submitted for grading. Graph the frequency of the health behavior, marking when the intervention started and ended. Health interventions need to be discussed with the instructor prior to commencement.

Assessment 4: Behaviour Change Policy Debate
Weight: 15%, deadline: week 7
Learning aim: Learning aim: Provide students with experiences on advocating for policies on a specific health topic. Policy change has been one of the most effective ways to modify health behaviours in large populations. Many policies are explicitly or implicitly based on theories. In this assignment, work in groups of 2 to lead a debate on a behavior and strategies to develop a theory based policy. Students are asked to frame the issues around whether it should be an individual or social responsibility. Students pick different sides and present their case for 5 minutes each. After the 10-minute presentation, the class will discuss and debate the health behavior and select a side.

Assessment 5: Group or Community Based Health Behaviour Change Intervention Proposal
Weight: 40%, deadline: week 8
Learning aim: Develop a group or community based health behavior change intervention, measured by the ability to integrate learning and formulate a proposal that is grounded in one or more of the theories discussed in class along with criteria for evaluation. Students will be asked to pick a target health behaviour and a focal community to develop a behavioural assessment. They will then have to apply a specific theoretical model to this same health behaviour to develop an intervention along with evaluation criteria to measure success.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list



This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Jyothi Thrivikraman


The focus of this course is to cover the key theoretical concepts underlying health promotion efforts and to learn about the determinants of healthy behaviours. The students will have a wide range of teaching tools to reinforce the learnings.